Everyone knows that smartphones make life convenient. They make it easy to check the weather, find a recipe, stay in touch with friends, follow the news, or just see what Kim Kardashian had for breakfast. In fact, a study by the University of Derby found that one in eight people are addicted to their phones. The signs and symptoms of smartphone addiction range from the psychological to the physical and are very real for those suffering.
1. You Can’t Sleep
Smartphone addiction has been linked to trouble sleeping. Research suggests that the blue light emitted by your phone can actually disrupt your sleep cycle, making it harder to fall asleep. If you find that you can’t stop looking at your phone until the moment you close your eyes, despite the fact that it may be interfering with your sleep, you might be addicted to your smartphone.
Excessive smartphone use can disrupt your sleep, which can have a serious impact on your overall mental health. It can impact your memory, affect your ability to think clearly and reduce your cognitive and learning skills.
2. You’re Anxious
Addiction doesn’t just mean you look at your phone a lot. It also comes with measurable symptoms that indicate you’ve become dependent on your phone in a way that impedes your everyday life. For some addicts, this means just the thought of not having their phone can cause them anxiety and actually go without their phone is a no-go entirely.
One researcher found that the mere presence of a phone in a workplace tends to make people more anxious and perform poorly on given tasks. The heavier a person’s phone use, the greater the anxiety they experienced. If the notion of leaving your phone at home for the day sends you into a panic, this is a sign you’re addicted to your phone.
3. You’re Always Distracted
Do you find yourself missing out on what your friends are up to, even though you’re right there with them? Is your social life suffering because of all the time you spend on your phone or other devices? If you’re in a meeting or chatting with friends, do you lose track of what’s being said because you’re checking your phone? Have friends and family expressed concern about the amount of time you spend on your phone? Do you feel like no one in your “real” life—even your spouse—understands you like your online friends?
Do you frequently find yourself snapping back to reality and realizing you’ve been lost in your phone for an extended period of time? Losing time by reaching for your phone when you’re bored could be a sign that you’ve got a smartphone problem.
Giving your phone so much attention that you find yourself ignoring the conversations and people around can be a sign of smartphone addiction. On top of that, conversations are actually a useful workout for your brain, so when you pass on talking to your friends for checking on your Facebook, you’re missing an opportunity to keep your mind sharp.
Spending hours scrolling through social media feeds or websites like a zombie that craves likes instead of brains is a sign that you have a problem moderating the way you use your phone. You might think you’re looking at your phone because you have “nothing better to do,” but almost anything is better than killing time looking at your phone for no good reason.
4. You Text More Than Talk
If you find yourself without your phone while you’re on your way to run a simple errand, do you have to turn around and go back home to get it? That kind of attachment to a device isn’t healthy and could be a sign you’re addicted to your phone.
One of the many deleterious effects of smartphone addiction is that you may find yourself isolated from the real world. If you find yourself communicating with people via text more often than face to face, it’s probably time to turn the phone off and grab a cup of coffee with a friend.
5. You Feel Phantom Vibrations
If you have a problem with smartphone addiction, you probably know what we’re talking about. You feel your phone vibrating, but when you check it, there’s nothing there. It could be a sign that you are so anxious about not using your phone that your body eagerly interprets other stimuli as a message from your phone. This anxiety can also keep you from being fully present with your family or friends.
Vibrations typically begin occurring after carrying a phone for between one month and one year. It has been suggested that, when anticipating a phone call, the cerebral cortex may misinterpret other sensory input (such as muscle contractions, pressure from clothing, or music) as a phone vibration or ring tone. This may be understood as a human signal detection issue, with potentially significant influences from psychological attributes.
Factors such as experiences, expectations, and psychological states influence the threshold for signal detection. Some phantom vibration experiences may be a type of pareidolia and can, therefore, be examined as a psychological phenomenon influenced by individual variances in personality, condition, and context. Attachment anxiety can also be seen as a predictor for the frequency of phantom vibration experiences since it is associated with psychological attributes related to insecurity in interpersonal relationships.
6. You Feel Lonely Without It
Overuse of your phone can lead to increased feelings of shyness or loneliness, caused in no small part by the isolation you experience when your entire world exists in a little computer you hold in your hand. If you find yourself feeling lonely even though you’ve maxed out your Facebook friend count, use your phone to call a friend instead of posting another status update.
While it may seem that losing yourself online will temporarily make feelings such as loneliness, depression, and boredom evaporate into thin air, it can actually make you feel even worse. A 2014 study found a correlation between high social media usage and depression and anxiety. Users, especially teens, tend to compare themselves unfavorably with their peers on social media, promoting feelings of loneliness and depression.
7. You’re Acting Impulsively
Smartphone addiction has been linked to an increase in impulsive behavior. Too much time on your phone can lead to an imbalance in your brain chemistry and has been linked to depression, anxiety, insomnia, and impulsive behavior.
While you can experience impulse-control problems with a laptop or desktop computer, the size, and convenience of smartphones and tablets means that we can take them just about anywhere and gratify our compulsions at any time. In fact, most of us are rarely ever more than five feet from our smartphones. Like the use of drugs and alcohol, they can trigger the release of the brain chemical dopamine and alter your mood. You can also rapidly build up a tolerance so that it takes more and more time in front of these screens to derive the same pleasurable reward.
8. You Procrastinate on Important Work with Your Phone
If you are addicted to your phone, then you would probably procrastinate on all your important work with your phone. Smartphones can be very addictive, and people would normally be on them no matter how important their other tasks would be. Even while performing other tasks, phone addicts would need to use their phones in the middle of their work.
Chances are that you will be caught using your phone while you are sitting through an exam or attending an important meeting. Exams and meetings are not places where phones should be used as you could get into a lot of trouble for it. However, addicts just cannot seem to help themselves and they will use it whenever they get their hands on it.
Phone addicts usually show most, if not all, of these 25 signs that are stated above. While phone addiction is very much real, very few people are actually aware of their addiction. This essentially means that they will keep about their addiction unknowingly, and thus would not do anything to reduce its effects. It is not that difficult to get rid of your phone addiction, provided that you take the necessary steps and seek help, either professionally or from the people around you.
9. You Use Two Screens at Once
A relaxing Netflix binge was supposed to be your activity for the evening, yet your eyes are off the TV and instead of checking out that cat video your Facebook friend just posted. Feeling the need to distract yourself even from entertainment is a sure sign you can’t stand time away from your phone.
Would a bigger screen be easier to read? Probably. Reading through an article on your phone likely means one of two things: You could be on the go and had to fill an empty moment with screen time, or you’re sitting around the house and felt like scrolling through your phone be less of a time suck than pulling out your laptop. Either way, there’s a good chance you’re addicted to your phone.
10. You Failed the Test
Worried about smartphone addiction? There’s an online quiz for that. The quiz was created by assistant professor of human-computer interaction at the State University of New York at Oswego Caglar Yildirim to help people assess whether they’ve got a case of nomophobia. A score under 20 means you’re probably all good, but as your score increases, so does the amount your phone habits are interfering with your life.
You may be one of the growing number of Americans (or global citizens) who has a bit of nomophobia. “Nomophobia?” you mutter as you read this on your ever-present smartphone. “Of course not.”
“NO MObile PHOne phoBIA” is a 21st-century term for the fear of not being able to use your cell phone or other smart devices. Cell phone addiction is on the rise, surveys show, and a new study released Thursday adds to a growing body of evidence that smartphone and internet addiction is harming our minds — literally.